Other search tools

This section introduces additional search tools that may be useful to identify information for your research question. By the end of the section, you will have explored a range of resources including grey literature (information that has not been published commercially or indexed in major databases), other library catalogues and the technique of browsing important journals in your area of interest. See more on grey literature.

Selecting databases for your research

Databases can be used for many different aspects of your research, from developing your research proposal, writing your literature review, conducting research activities, writing up your results and discussing the significance and impact of your research.

Searching databases at the start of your research journey can:

  • inspire creative ideas
  • consolidate your understanding of your research area
  • help you write a good research question
  • accelerate the research proposal writing process
  • provide the framework of study for the duration of your degree.

Explore a few different databases to see what sorts of information they contain. Ask your supervisory team and your Liaison Librarian for guidance on what databases may be appropriate to answering your research question.

Activity - finding the right databases

  1. Go to the QUT Library Databases and specialised search tools page.
  2. Select your subject area.
  3. Note the divisions by study area, formats and specialist researcher databases.
  4. Read the synopses for the databases that are likely to be relevant. Consider subject relevance and breadth of coverage and the types of formats indexed in the database.

Other search tools

Beside databases for journal articles and conference papers, there are a number of other search tools or sources you may want to refer to early in your research.

Finding theses

Examining theses in your discipline is good practice and is recommended early in your candidature. This strategy will assist in thinking about how to structure and format your thesis, the originality of your idea or question, and provide a source of rich bibliographies. Think about theses in terms of local, national and international content. For QUT theses check QUT ePrints, Australian theses can be found in Trove and international in ProQuest Dissertations. Most universities, in many countries and some regions have open access repositories for theses, research publications, and sometimes datasets for researchers.

There are a number of tools available from QUT Library and the web for finding theses in your research area:

For links to international, regional and national repositories, see the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations list.

Finding key journals

Scanning the latest issues of certain journals is a valuable strategy to:

  • gain an understanding of the research being done around your topic
  • help you reflect on the scope and direction of your research
  • identify the current trends in a discipline
  • to ensure you find valuable information that might be overlooked in a database search.

After searching journal databases and identifying the best articles for your topic it may become apparent that the most relevant articles are consistently found in a handful of journals.

Find out which journals are specific to your topic area:

  • recommendations from your supervisor
  • select high quality journals by subject area journals using Scopus, Web of Science and Ulrichsweb
  • search using your key concepts in Quick Find with results limited by relevant journal format and subject terms to evaluate for best sources
  • use the advanced search feature in the Classic Catalogue search by subject and limit to the periodicals collection.

Online journals via publisher websites

Some publishers may cover your subject area better than others. Journal publisher websites give quick access to the tables of contents, so you can scroll through the recent issues to get a feel for current trends. You might notice "hot topics" of the day and adjust your research scope to consider new concepts or frameworks. You can subscribe to receive notification of the table of contents of new issues of key journals by email.

Here are some key journal publishers for QUT faculty areas:

Browsing print journals

In some subject areas, print journals are important. These areas tend to be the disciplines with a high reliance on images, e.g. art and design, music and architecture. Scanning the latest issues of print journals can therefore be a valuable option. New issues are available in the journal section of QUT Library. To physically browse and locate what the Library has in print find out the general call number range for your research area. Popular print journals include:

Other library catalogues

Most universities provide access to their library's catalogue online and there are "union catalogues" with the holdings of many libraries. The QUT Library can get you most items via online request using Bonus+ or Document Delivery. You can also request that your Liaison Librarian purchase additional items for the QUT Library collection.

Union catalogues include:

  • Bonus+ Bonus+ provides access to the collections of participating libraries across Australia and New Zealand
  • Trove Trove
  • WorldCat WorldCat is the world's largest catalogue, containing library catalogue holdings from many countries.


You have started to explore the QUT Library database page to find databases that are relevant to your topic area. You have considered the usefulness of theses, journals, and other library catalogues for your research.